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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 5, 2012

Date published:
February 05, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Gallery: Final preparations for Tour of Qatar

    Mark Renshaw leads Rabobank in Qatar.
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 9:52 GMT
    Mark Robinson

    Riders training in Doha on eve of race

    The 11th edition of the Tour of Qatar is set to start on Sunday morning and all the riders have now arrived at their base at the Ritz Carlton hotel in the capital city Doha.

    On Saturday morning, several of the teams went through their final preparations by setting out on a training ride in the Doha hinterland, with Rabobank, Team Sky, Liquigas-Cannondale, GreenEdge and Farenese Vini-Selle Italia among the first wave of squads to hit the road.

    This part of the world is renowned for its crosswinds at this time of year, and the women experienced particularly high gusts throughout their three-day tour, which finished on Friday in victory for Judith Arndt. The good news for the men is that conditions appear to be becoming more settled. Whether that lasts for the six days of the race, which runs from Sunday through to Friday, remains to be seen.

  • Armstrong welcomes end of federal investigation

    2005 seems a lifetime away for Lance Armstrong
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 10:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Federal crime and doping are separate matters, notes Hamilton lawyer

    Lance Armstrong has welcomed the news that the federal investigation into allegations of systematic doping at his former US Postal Service team has been closed.

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that the investigation had concluded without charges. No explanation was offered for the decision.

    The investigation was triggered in earnest in May 2010, when Floyd Landis confessed to doping while at US Postal, and implicated Armstrong and manager Johan Bruyneel in his outline of the alleged practices at the team.

    “I am gratified to learn that the U.S. Attorney's Office is closing its investigation," Lance Armstrong said in a statement. "It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it. I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction."

    Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former US Postal teammate Frankie Andreu, expressed her disappointment that the investigation had concluded without charges being filed. Both Frankie and Betsy Andreu are understood to have cooperated with the investigation, led by Jeff Novitzky.

    “Our legal system failed us," Andreu said, according to ESPN. "This is what happens when you have a lot of money."

    The investigation was built around discerning whether Armstrong or other members of the US Postal team set-up had violated federal conspiracy, fraud or racketeering charges rather than establishing if doping had taken place on the team.

    However, the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) has stated that...

  • Rolland happy to lighten load at Europcar

    Pierre Rolland (Europcar) savours his first victory of the 2012 season.
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 12:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Tour de France hope wins stage at Étoile de Bessèges

    Pierre Rolland (Europcar) knows that it’s a long way from a freezing Étoile de Bessèges to the white heat of the Tour de France, but the man who will shoulder so much French expectation in July got his season off to a fine start with victory on stage 3 of the early-season race on Friday.

    The climber admitted that he is not used to performing so strongly in the opening races of the season, but acknowledged the importance of getting his squad off to a good start. Last year, Thomas Voeckler was already in winning form in February, and Rolland said he was pleased to help lighten the load for the Europcar leader this time around.

    “Winning in February is always good for what is to come afterwards,” Rolland told L’Équipe. “I’m not an early-season rider but a win at this time of the year means less pressure for the team, so Voeckler is not alone is assuming the entire weight of the season.”

    After the Col de Treylis had already put paid to Marcel Kittel’s (Projct 1t4i) defence of the leader’s jersey, an eight-man group featuring Rolland jumped clear of the peloton 100km into the stage, but they had just 45 seconds in hand on the peloton as they entered the final 20km, which featured three laps of a finishing circuit in Bessèges.

    With the bunch breathing down their necks, the break fragmented on the final lap, where Rolland seized the initiative and went on the attack, bringing Franck Vermeulen (Véranda Rideau-Super U) with him. The pair were 15 seconds clear of the chasing pack under the red kit, and Rolland duly held his nerve to hold off Vermeulen in the sprint.

    Rolland paid tribute to his breakaway companions’ efforts, and...

  • Cavendish sick on eve of Tour of Qatar

    World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky)
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 13:17 GMT
    Mark Robinson

    British world champion still a probable starter

    Mark Cavendish's preparations for his Team Sky debut suffered a setback on Saturday after he missed his final training ride ahead of Sunday's Tour of Qatar with illness. The British sprinter complained of feeling unwell after flying into the Qatari capital of Doha.

    As a precautionary measure the 26-year-old did not join his teammates as they left the team hotel for their morning ride. A spokesman from Team Sky stated that no final decision has been made on his participation in tomorrow's race but that he was likely to start. He will spend the remainder of the day resting.

    "13hrs of sweat-drenched sleep hasn't shifted a fever that started on the plane over here. Really not feeling well today. Can't leave my bed," Cavendish said via Twitter on Saturday.

    The six-stage race starts on Sunday at the iconic Barzan Towers and will run until Friday. The race organisers will be hopeful that Cavendish, one of world cycling's biggest draws, will recover to take his place at the start line, especially after German star Andre Greipel pulled out of the race earlier in the week.

  • Giro di Sardegna falls by the wayside for 2012

    Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) delivered a stunning display of strength to win the day.
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 15:20 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sardinian stage race cancelled due to budgetary problems

    The Giro di Sardegna will not take place in 2012 due to financial problems. The Sardinian stage race was due to get under way on February 21, but race organisers have revealed that they have been forced to cancel this year’s event as they were unable to secure the necessary budget.

    In a statement issued on Saturday morning, the organisers explained that local councils in the area had yet to confirm the level of their financial backing for the 2012 event. This was exacerbated by the fact that some contributions from other sources towards the running of the last three editions of the race had not been received.

    “The contributions agreed with the local and provincial administration for 2012 had not yet been decided upon and therefore were not certain,” read the statement. “In light of this, in a year in which the budget is not yet fully clear, it is not appropriate to start without the necessary cover.”

    Italian state television RAI was set to broadcast coverage of the race, but the organisers were themselves covering the production costs, something which they claim also took a toll on the event’s finances.

    “We wish to highlight that RAI, in taking such a decision, is contributing to the cancellation of the event,” said the organisers, who also noted that RAI had paid “greater attention to less important and less established events.”

    It is not clear if the five-day race will return to the calendar in 2013. The race, which was established in 1958, has endured two lengthy hiatuses during its history. The race’s first long interval began in 1984, and a brief attempt to revive it in the mid-1990s petered out after just two seasons.

    The Giro di Sardegna returned in 2009, while Peter Sagan took three stages en route to overall victory last season.


  • UCI wants to put Armstrong investigation behind it

    Lance Armstrong smiles, Miguel Indurain looks less than impressed
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 17:13 GMT
    Daniel Benson

    Closure of federal case welcomed by Pat McQuaid

    After the news that Lance Armstrong will not face federal charges in the US after an extended two-year investigation into alleged doping activities, the UCI, has weighed in with it's opinion, stating that the sport should put the case behind it.

    “We took notice of the announcement in relation to the conclusion of the investigation. We are obviously very happy to learn it, bearing in mind how much cycling has suffered over the last two years, especially in terms of image and credibility," UCI President Pat McQuaid said. 

    "I think our sport didn’t deserve it – just like in many other similar situations – and today I can only say that the past is finally behind us.
    We just want now keep looking forward to the bright future of cycling!”

    Cyclingnews news spoke to another UCI spokesperson, who also welcomed the recent news.

    "For us and for cycling its been a long period and has caused a lot of problems. Cycling has suffered a lot for this story and this conclusion. There are no charges and now we only want to put this behind us and look forward. All we want to say is that we're looking forward. We're really happy with this conclusion."

    Armstrong and US Postal were part of the investigation which was triggered in part by accusations made by Floyd Landis two years ago. Landis made several allegations surrounding the Armstrong, his team manager Johan Bruyneel, other US Postal riders and the UCI.

    Landis alleged that the UCI had helped to cover up a positive test for Armstrong from an edition of the Tour de Suisse. The governing body was put on the back foot when questions were asked relating to donations Armstrong had made to the UCI. President Pat McQuaid admitted that donations were...

  • Renshaw ready for duel with ex-teammate Cavendish

    Former teammates Renshaw (left) and Cavendish are set to go head to head in Qatar
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 19:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    Rabobank rider says his friend could be vulnerable in Qatar

    2012 represents a new chapter in the careers of Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish. The two men rode together at the now disbanded HTC Highroad team and enjoyed a large amount of success, with the Australian Renshaw acting as the final leadout man for Cavendish as he swept up numerous victories and accolades along the way.

    Now, at tomorrow's Tour of Qatar, the two men will line up against each other for the first time since they joined new teams - Renshaw moved to Rabobank in the off-season and Cavendish moved "home" to join British outfit Team Sky.

    Much has been made of the role that Renshaw has played in Cavendish's past successes and the jury is out on whether he can match the glory of the past couple of seasons without his friend and former teammate. Provided Cavendish recovers from a rough flight over to Qatar, with his team remaining confident that he will, we will get our initial answers over the coming week.

    Renshaw debuted for Rabobank last month in his homeland at the Tour Down Under and is hopeful that having a race under his belt already might give him an edge over his friend and rival, as he looks to successfully defend the race that he surprisingly won last season when he upstaged Cavendish.

    ''It's going to be the first time I get to race against 'Cav','' Renshaw told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The goal is to catch him off guard. It's his first race of the year. He'll be hard to beat if he's in...

  • Contador to line up in Mallorca

    Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) was all smiles after his stage win
    Article published:
    February 04, 2012, 23:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard awaiting Monday's CAS verdict

    Alberto Contador will resume competition in the Trofeo Palma de Mallorca on Sunday with the knowledge that it could very well be his last race for at least a few months.

    The Spaniard is awaiting a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, due mid-day on Monday, Europe time, on whether or not the Spanish Cycling Federation was correct in letting him off without a sporting ban after his 2010 Tour de France anti-doping positive for clenbuterol.

    Verdicts on both the World Anti-Doping Agency and UCI appeals will be announced on Monday after months of delays.

    Despite having the specter of a possible two-year ban, the start date of which could range anywhere from the date of his positive test until his last day of competition, Contador is free to race under the UCI's rules.

    The Trofeo Palma de Mallorca is part of the Challenge Ciclista Mallorca, a four-race points series that takes place on the Spanish island from February 5-8.

    Last month, Contador kicked off his season by winning two stages of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and finished second overall. The CAS could strip him of all of his results from the time of his positive test until his most recent race should it decide in favour of the UCI and WADA.